These Are the Best Schools for Nontraditional Students

Ryan Morris
by Ryan Morris
Rankings - 1 year ago
Copied!

While it seems like most American college students attend right after high school — typically between the ages of 18-22 — not everyone is afforded the same opportunities as others.

Whether it be due to financial reasons, time constraints, or even disability, there is any number of reasons why someone might choose (or be forced) to forgo attending college in favor of taking their lives in another direction.

Some people go their entire lives without attending college, which can often be the right choice for an individual. For others, missing college in their late teens/early twenties is simply a setback on their road to higher education.

In fact, nontraditional students — which the NCES defines according to several factors, such as any student outside of the above age range (18-22), or who attends college less than full-time, or doesn’t live on campus, etc. — actually make up over 70% percent of all college students. This got us at Zippia wondering — which colleges in the US are the most friendly to nontraditional students?

We were curious — so, using IPEDS data from the NCES, we created our own list of the schools in the US that accept the highest number of nontraditional students.

The full list can be found further down, but first, here’s a quick top ten.

  1. Excelsior College
  2. Capella University
  3. Linfield College
  4. American Sentinel University
  5. American Public University System
  6. Charter Oak State College
  7. Nazarene Bible College
  8. National American University
  9. Pennsylvania State University – World Campus
  10. City Vision University

How We Did It

Using blank data from the National Center for Education Statistics, we put together a list of schools that had the following educational opportunities for their students:

  • Dual Credit
  • Credit for Life Experiences
  • Advanced Placement (AP) credits

Following that, we looked separately at what percentage of students from each school were I) enrolled part-time, II) were of a non-traditional age (that is, any age outside of the 18-22 range), and III) were distance-education students. Each school was ranked according to these percentages, with those closest to 100% getting the highest rankings.

We then averaged these three separate ranks together in order to get our final ranked list of the schools that were the most friendly to nontraditional students.

Does your school make the top fifteen? Read on to the full list to find out.

1. Excelsior College

Source

Location: Albany, New York
School Description: A private non-profit college in NY, Excelsior College tops our list with almost all of its students listed as nontraditional in either age or means of education. Excelsior is widely known for its transfer credit policy, wherein almost any credit from another institution will be accepted (provided that the credits are from within the last decade or so).

2. Capella University

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
School Description: Capella University is a for-profit, largely online university with a huge population of nontraditional students. The majority of these students are actually obtaining graduate degrees — only 23% of Capella’s student population is made up of its graduate students.

3. Linfield College

Location: McMinnville, Oregon
School Description: Linfield College, a private college located in McMinnville, OR, is a liberal arts school offering almost 50 majors. The school also has a significant online component, with an adult degree program found on the school’s official website.

4. American Sentinel University

Location: Denver, Colorado and Birmingham, Alabama
School Description: American Sentinel College formed from after the merging of the American College of Computer & Information Sciences and American Graduate School of Management. The school now offers business and technology courses from both programs and has a significant online education program.

5. American Public University System

Location: Charles Town, West Virginia
School Description: American Public University System is comprised of two major institutes: 1) American Military University, and 2) American Public University. Despite the name, APUS is actually a private online university that began life as a graduate school for military personnel in need of specialized training courses.

6. Charter Oak State College

Source

Location: New Britain, Connecticut
School Description: A public liberal arts school located in New Britain, CT, Charter Oak offers a lot in the way of student assistance, including program planning and credit given for military training or prior learning. Like the other schools on this list, the school provides education through its online learning program.

7. Nazarene Bible College

Location: Colorado Springs, Colorado
School Description: Nazarene Bible College is a private, coeducational bible college located in Colorado. Its student body is made up almost entirely of nontraditional college students — the school has no on-campus housing, and the average age of its student population is 38.

8. National American University

Location: Rapid City, South Dakota
School Description: National American University is another online for-profit university, this one based primarily in Rapid City, SD. An accredited school, NAU offers courses in a variety of programs including accounting, criminal justice, nursing, and information technology.

9. Pennsylvania State University – World Campus

Source

Location: State College, Pennsylvania
School Description: Pennsylvania State University is one of the largest public universities in Pennsylvania and is part of Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth System of Higher Education. While it’s widely known for its large campus and large traditional student population, it also has a thriving online university program where the majority of its nontraditional student population finds their home.

10. City Vision University

Location: Kansas City, Missouri
School Description: An online university based out of Kansas City, City Vision University offers programs in fields like addiction studies, nonprofit management, and business administration. Primarily a Christian institution, City Vision is fully accredited by Distance Education Accrediting Commission, making it an excellent place for nontraditional students of the Christian faith to meet their educational needs.

11. University of Maryland University College

Location: Adelphi, Maryland
School Description: University of Maryland University College is the second big public university to make our list. Located in Adelphi, MD, UMUC is part of the University of Maryland, College Park institution. Originally an evening program for adults beginning in the 1920s, today UMUC is a distance-education institution with over 60,000 undergraduate students.

12. Eastern New Mexico University – Ruidoso Campus

Location: Ruidoso, New Mexico
School Description: Eastern New Mexico University is a state school based in Portales, NM, but with another degree-granting branch found in Ruidoso. The Ruidoso campus is a two-year school with a focus on community-based learning and adult education in a variety of programs.

13. Elizabethtown College

Location: Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
School Description: A private college located in Elizabethtown, PA, Elizabethtown College offers degrees in fields as disparate as information technology, engineering, and humanities. The school has a focus on student service, with over 600 students and faculty participating annually in programs like Elizabethtown’s “Into the Streets” program.

14. Averett University

Location: Danville, Virginia
School Description: Averett University is a private non-profit school located in Danville, VA, originally founded as a women’s college in the mid-1800s. Nowadays, the school has a large distance-learning program and offers courses in subjects like mathematics, communications, psychology, and even equestrian studies.

15. Marylhurst University

Location: Marylhurst, Oregon
School Description: A private liberal arts school located in Marylhurst, OR, Marylhurst University is one of the oldest institutions in all of Oregon. The first liberal arts college for women in the Northwest, Marylhurst University is also home to the “Art Gym,” a previously-unused athletics facility that now is home to a number of art projects, and is used to house senior art shows every year.

Wrapping Up

You’ll find our full list below, but there’s more to see here at Zippia.

Are you a high school student looking at colleges? Find out which colleges are the best for fraternities or sororities.

Or are you looking for more articles like this one? Check out which small colleges are the best in Kansas.

Rank Institution Name % Of Students Nontraditional Age % Of Part-Time Students % Of Distance Education Students
1 Excelsior College 91.84% 100.00% 100.00%
2 Capella University 96.18% 92.11% 100.00%
3 Linfield College 92.92% 95.10% 99.73%
4 American Sentinel University 97.83% 79.15% 100.00%
5 American Public University System 85.04% 91.81% 100.00%
6 Charter Oak State College 90.26% 81.04% 100.00%
7 Nazarene Bible College 91.70% 84.67% 89.40%
8 National American University 86.16% 98.74% 86.79%
9 Pennsylvania State University – World Campus 82.96% 80.62% 100.00%
10 City Vision University 89.62% 76.42% 100.00%
11 University of Maryland – University College 82.76% 82.71% 96.87%
12 Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso Campus 73.99% 82.34% 98.89%
13 Elizabethtown College 97.36% 100.00% 56.92%
14 Averett University-Non-Traditional Programs 90.82% 73.97% 80.32%
15 Marylhurst University 88.59% 73.63% 80.55%
16 Coastline Community College 73.05% 84.85% 84.82%
17 Grand Canyon University 75.18% 81.02% 78.54%
18 Peirce College 76.99% 82.14% 64.52%
19 DeVry University-Illinois 83.37% 70.67% 91.85%
20 Northeastern University Professional Advancement Network 70.27% 78.12% 66.47%
21 DeVry University-Georgia 86.37% 67.93% 82.98%
22 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide 90.11% 65.37% 93.57%
23 College of Biblical Studies-Houston 86.52% 83.69% 47.52%
24 Brandman University 90.42% 65.94% 82.92%
25 The Art Institute of Pittsburgh-Online Division 70.93% 66.69% 100.00%
26 City University of Seattle 77.93% 64.21% 100.00%
27 Wayland Baptist University 75.03% 78.51% 49.30%
28 Goodwin College 70.05% 84.28% 49.79%
29 Concordia University-Chicago 73.05% 70.62% 58.05%
30 Georgia Piedmont Technical College 72.08% 76.28% 49.18%
31 DeVry University-Ohio 77.46% 63.94% 85.65%
32 Central Texas College 64.32% 77.70% 52.93%
33 Antioch University Online 88.31% 59.74% 100.00%
34 Great Basin College 62.81% 69.42% 81.39%
35 Holy Apostles College and Seminary 82.58% 65.16% 61.76%
36 Clarkson College 66.75% 65.79% 91.31%
37 Rasmussen College-Minnesota 67.45% 65.81% 82.51%
38 Rasmussen College-Kansas 75.95% 61.45% 99.62%
39 Franklin University 88.04% 60.27% 84.48%
40 Epic Bible College 75.81% 71.51% 47.31%
41 Southern New Hampshire University 79.32% 60.30% 91.98%
42 Park University 75.70% 63.10% 71.26%
43 University of Maine at Augusta 71.94% 64.49% 68.61%
44 Wilmington University 70.13% 63.11% 84.96%
45 SUNY Empire State College 83.61% 63.30% 58.60%
46 Davenport University 65.48% 67.34% 61.19%
47 Northwest Technical College 58.24% 70.74% 72.96%
48 Regent University 76.92% 60.04% 86.47%
49 Post University 77.75% 58.97% 91.56%
50 Lakeshore Technical College 62.78% 75.96% 46.88%
51 Rappahannock Community College 70.05% 76.98% 41.92%
52 New Mexico Junior College 56.52% 67.43% 100.00%
53 Colorado Christian University 73.02% 73.02% 42.22%
54 Florida Gateway College 59.44% 71.26% 55.49%
55 Athens State University 67.74% 59.68% 88.62%
56 Herzing University-Madison 82.09% 54.56% 92.12%
57 Western Texas College 52.40% 74.15% 78.95%
58 Columbus Technical College 59.55% 74.18% 47.18%
59 Rasmussen College-Illinois 69.34% 58.25% 87.30%
60 University of St Francis 67.27% 62.12% 59.84%
61 Heritage Christian University 69.57% 59.78% 66.30%
62 St Petersburg College 57.21% 70.72% 51.94%
63 Southwestern College 64.11% 63.02% 58.19%
64 Northcentral Technical College 55.57% 66.62% 72.93%
65 Stark State College 63.82% 72.71% 41.77%
66 Pamlico Community College 70.45% 61.74% 52.02%
67 Lake Region State College 50.57% 72.11% 86.97%
68 Lorain County Community College 61.78% 72.76% 43.12%
69 Klamath Community College 56.78% 65.36% 67.08%
70 Stratford University 72.60% 62.49% 49.17%
71 Arapahoe Community College 64.99% 80.27% 37.64%
72 Fayetteville Technical Community College 62.16% 60.95% 65.13%
73 Rasmussen College-Wisconsin 69.42% 54.07% 95.28%
74 Stanly Community College 57.83% 62.56% 80.30%
75 Liberty University 71.61% 52.90% 90.09%
76 Yavapai College 66.78% 74.45% 37.85%
77 Lenoir Community College 60.21% 61.23% 68.66%
78 Marygrove College 66.96% 60.80% 55.51%
79 Minnesota West Community and Technical College 61.20% 63.38% 57.04%
80 Terra State Community College 59.46% 71.38% 44.23%
81 Metropolitan State University 73.41% 65.30% 43.01%
82 Technical College of the Lowcountry 55.96% 71.48% 48.46%
83 Rasmussen College-Florida 76.30% 49.26% 94.22%
84 Webster University 81.85% 67.59% 37.49%
85 Maryville University of Saint Louis 65.68% 65.87% 44.28%
86 Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City 53.51% 68.49% 59.89%
87 Virginia Baptist College 62.96% 56.48% 74.07%
88 LIU Riverhead 72.85% 64.24% 43.05%
89 Cedar Valley College 57.09% 71.77% 44.17%
90 Kennebec Valley Community College 62.37% 73.31% 38.08%
91 McDowell Technical Community College 63.38% 67.00% 43.13%
92 College of the Siskiyous 61.69% 65.73% 46.12%
93 Central Ohio Technical College 59.03% 72.83% 41.03%
94 University of Maine at Fort Kent 56.64% 62.60% 61.26%
95 Clark State Community College 59.09% 71.56% 40.90%
96 The Christ College of Nursing and Health Sciences 48.03% 71.10% 74.90%
97 Kirtland Community College 55.28% 68.06% 49.08%
98 Central Georgia Technical College 62.10% 66.18% 43.25%
99 Granite State College 74.25% 47.45% 81.83%